Mendocino County medical pot: 25 plants

August 07, 2007

Ben Brown, Ukiah Daily Journal

After eight months of discussion in the Criminal Justice Committee and nearly three hours of public comment from community members, including attorneys, doctors and medical marijuana advocates, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to uphold county medical marijuana plant limits at the number established in 2000 by Measure G.

The board voted 3-2, with 1st District Supervisor Michael Delbar and 2nd District Supervisor Jim Wattenburger voting against, to pass a resolution supporting the plant limit at 25 adult-female marijuana plants and two pounds of processed marijuana per-patient, the same numbers approved by voters in 2000 when they passed Measure G.

"The law says 25," said 5th District Supervisor David Colfax. "Twenty-five is 25."

Before the motion passed, Wattenburger said he believed the number of plants per-patient should be limited to six mature plants and 12 immature plants as allowed by Proposition 420.

Delbar had his own concerns.

"Allowing excess to be created under the guise of legality is wrong," he said.

Many of those who appeared to comment at the meeting argued in support of a 25-plant limit.

Dale Gieringer, coordinator for the California National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the six-plant limit established by Proposition 420 was set by politicians and has no scientific basis.

"Twenty-five plants is a modest garden for personal use," Gieringer said.

Former Assistant District Attorney Keith Faulder also spoke in support of a 25-plant limit, noting that Measure G passed with a 60 percent majority in 2000.

Faulder also said the lack of any countywide standard for medical marijuana has "hurt more than it's helped."

Not everyone was in favor of raising the limit on the number of plants, however. Spring Starback said she once grew medical marijuana for a friend.

"I know for a fact that you don't need more than six plants to do you for a year," she said.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Finnegan said a six-plant limit would provide more than enough marijuana for a patient and that raising the plant limit could lead to abuse.

"The more a person is growing, the more money there is to be had," he said.

The board also heard from District Attorney Meredith Lintott, who said she would respect the 25-plant limit set by Measure G and from Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

"I give you my word as sheriff that if your vote is 25 plants, that is exactly what I intend to do," he said.

Earlier in the day, Allman presented his medical marijuana zip-tie plan, which would offer 25-serial numbered zip-ties to medical marijuana patients with a county-issued identification card.

Allman said the zip-ties would allow sheriff's deputies to tell at a glance if a garden was in compliance.

The zip-ties will be free this year, but there are tentative plans to charge $25 each for the zip-ties next year, $12.50 for those on Medi-Cal.

The board also heard a proposal by 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches to address issues surrounding medical marijuana but referred it to the Criminal Justice Committee.

Wattenburger said, with the number of plants now decided, the committee can move on to issues such as dispensaries and an education program.

Ben Brown can be reached at

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